Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

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It’s easy to spend your travel budget on wine tasting fees alone. This article offers tips on how to get more for your dollar when in Napa Valley.

The Tasting Fees

This is anecdotal but before the dot-com bubble of 1997-2000 if you were to visit Napa Valley wineries only offered free wine tastings. During the dot-com era the number of folks who moved to the Bay Area and had disposable income skyrocketed. They wanted to spend that money and Napa Valley was an easy hour to two-hour drive away. With this sudden influx of new visitors the wineries had to adjust their procedures and institute tasting fees. This allowed the winery recoup money lost on the wine being served in the tasting room. Even after the dot-com bubble burst the wineries kept the tasting fees.

There are wineries in the industry that have priced their tasting fees at $25 or higher per person. This tasting fee might garner a visitor tastings of five different wines with pours for each tasting being minimal. The quantity might equal one glass of wine. Mind you, a tasting need not mean a full glass of wine. Wine tasting is not to get drunk. You are wine tasting to see if you enjoy the wine or not. Yet these wineries are selling bottles of wine that cost less than or the same as the tasting fee. Proportionally the cost of wine tasting is too high. Additionally most wineries have stopped waiving the tasting fee if you buy a bottle of wine. If you and a friend buy a tasting fee and each buy a bottle of wine a single visit could cost a $100 per winery.

Of course, a tasting fee is understandable. The wineries can’t just give away their wines for free. It is an extensive production to make a bottle of wine. It takes years from the moment the vines grow the grapes to the time a wine bottle hits the shelves. Plus, many people are involved with the production of the wine. This includes the employees in the field, wine makers, and tasting room attendants. If every person who wine tasted bought a bottle of wine it’s possible tasting fees could stop. Except there exist individuals who go wine tasting with no intention of buying wine. Regrettably this practice of tasting fees hurts those visitors who are new to wine and those who love wine and want to try out different wines and wineries.

Those new to wine may find tasting fees to high and avoid ever tasting at wineries. This leads to wineries loosing potential customers and prevents a person from even finding out how much they may enjoy that winery’s wine. For long time wine drinkers that same high wine tasting fee may stop them from visiting a winery and that too is a lost consumer. My suggestion to wineries is that their tasting fees should not be more than half of the cheapest bottle of wine in the tasting flight. If someone will buy a bottle of wine you don’t need to comp the entire tasting fee, but you should give a percentage off the total sale. Rewarding customers is a good practice and could land you a consumer for life.

Internet research can help you find wineries with no tasting fee, a low tasting fee, or tasting fees that go towards buying a bottle of wine. If you have a winery you want to visit but don’t want to pay the high tasting fee, my suggestion is to skip the tasting room. Instead, buy a bottle of their wine out right. For example, pack yourself a picnic lunch. Go to Frank Family Vineyards, buy a bottle of their wine, and ask them to uncork it for you. Snag a spot at one of their picnic benches outside and you and your group can split the bottle while eating lunch. If you have a big group you can buy more than one bottle. You’ve gone from a small pour in a tasting center to savoring the wine in a relaxed setting.

Crowds

Regardless of which wineries you visit there will be crowds. The number of people visiting Napa Valley has increased over the past couple of decades. If you’re with a big group and you’re just there for a fun outing this may not be an issue. If you’re there only for wine tasting it can be annoying. You don’t want to struggle for a spot at the wine bar or be jostled while trying to sip your wine. The only way to avoid crowds is to visit Napa Valley during the off-peak season, or weekdays. Visit wineries the moment they open in the morning to avoid crowds. If you are visiting Napa Valley with a large-sized group try calling the wineries ahead of time to let them know when you will visit them. There are wineries that offer group rates, with discounts on tours of the winery or packaged deals that include wine pairings with food. There are wineries that have specific tastings areas for larger groups that you can reserve ahead of time.

Release Day Events

Another tip to get the most out of your dollar is to attend a winery’s release day event. There are wineries that offer one or two such events a year. There is an entrance fee that may appear steep but includes unlimited tastings plus hors d’oeuvres. The best part of these events is the chance to try higher end bottles of wine. The wineries are attempting to sell cases of newly released wine, including cases that can run upwards of over a hundred dollars a bottle. If you’ve never tried wine that expensive these events allow you to do so. A lot of people attend release day events, be sure to arrive as early as possible. Even though it’s crowded, these events are wonderful for a group outing. Release day events are held outside or in event halls, which means more space than if you were inside a tasting room. Wineries that put on great release day events are Silver Oak Cellars and Groth Vineyards & Winery. Check on-line for other wineries that may host such events.

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Napa Valley on a Budget

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Frank Family Vineyards: 38.559106, -122.521703
Silver Oak Cellars: 38.440849, -122.381457
Groth Vineyards & Winery: 38.449131, -122.379458
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Frank Family Vineyards
Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Frank Family Vineyards, Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States
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Silver Oak Cellars
Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Silver Oak Cellars, Oakville Cross Road, Oakville, CA, United States
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Groth Vineyards & Winery
Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Groth Vineyards & Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Oakville, CA, United States

 

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Three Dining Options in Napa Valley

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There are two things Napa Valley does not lack, wineries and restaurants. With so many dining options it might be difficult for visitors to decide where to eat a meal. To help make your decision we have selected three restaurants we recommend. These restaurants each offer a quality dining experience and are each unique in their own way. Know that whichever restaurant you choose after your meal you will have a happy belly. In alphabetical order we present to you:

Ad Hoc

Front of Ad Hoc - Yountville, CA

Front of Ad Hoc

Chef Thomas Keller is best known for the French Laundry and Bouchon, both very respected fine-dining establishments. In Yountville he expanded his culinary prowess by opening another restaurant, Ad Hoc. What sets Ad Hoc apart is what makes this place a decision-phobic person’s dream. Ad Hoc offers just one menu for every patron. There is no need to hem and haw between two dishes that interest you or worry that your neighbor ordered a better meal. The menu changes daily, but the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a reoccurring entrée, and a crowd favorite. Each meal has a set price and includes a starter (such as soup or salad), the main entrée, a cheese plate, and dessert.

Ribeye with carrots at Ad Hoc

Ribeye with carrots at Ad Hoc

Reservations are recommended and if you want a preview of what your meal will be you can find the day’s menu on their website. Come with a hearty appetite for the portions are large. Don’t worry though, you can take your leftovers home to enjoy another day. Ad Hoc is on a street made for walking so after dinner work off your meal with a nice stroll.

Gott’s Roadside

Gott's Roadside - Napa, CA

Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s Roadside is casual dining at its finest. The immediate vibe upon entering Gott’s is that of an old-fashioned American Drive-In. If you’re a fan of burgers you will be highly pleased with any of the ten different hamburger options. Each hamburger is made with a 1/3-pound meat patty served on a toasted egg bun. Hamburgers aren’t the only dish Gott’s Roadside serves. You’ll find classics such as French Fries, hot dogs, sodas, and milkshakes. A closer look at the menu and you’ll find that Gott’s is an American establishment with an updated twist. You can order dishes such as salads, fish tacos, and sandwiches. The Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos are a good choice. The tacos are made with crunchy cabbage, fresh tuna, and a big slice of avocado along with a spicy mayo sauce. Gott’s serves a variety of wines and beers.

Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos at Gott's Roadside

Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos at Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s Roadside has two locations in Napa Valley, one in St. Helena and the other in Napa, part of the Oxbow Public Market. There are two other locations as well in California, one in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and the other in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village.

Morimoto Napa

Toro Tartare at Morimoto Napa

Toro Tartare at Morimoto Napa

When the food you cook grants you the title of being an Iron Chef you know you’re a damn good chef. Chef Masaharu Morimoto is an amazing chef and world-renowned for his culinary skills. Morimoto Napa is the first West Coast restaurant Chef Morimoto opened. It is in Napa’s downtown riverfront. Reservations are available for either lunch or dinner. The restaurant itself has a modern design but wooden tables create a comfortable atmosphere. Outdoor seating offers a nice view of the river.

Chirashi Bowl at Morimoto Napa

Chirashi Bowl at Morimoto Napa

With an Iron Chef’s backing the food you will eat will be of the highest quality. The attention to detail is shown in how the food is prepared and its presentation. For example, when the Toro Tartare appetizer arrives at your table you’re hesitant to dig in right away. You don’t want to mess up how the toro, wasabi, and nori paste are laid out. The Kakuni, pork belly, melts in your mouth. There is an extensive list of sushi and sashimi. If you are unsure which sushi or sashimi to select order the Chef’s Combination. If you want to sample a few different fishes a good choice is the Chirashi Sushi Rice Bowl. Remember to leave room for one of their unique desserts, such as mango pudding or tofu cheesecake.

 

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Napa Valley Dining

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Ad Hoc: 38.399180, -122.358529
Gott\'s Roadside - Napa: 38.301215, -122.281906
Gott\'s Roadside - St. Helena: 38.501911, -122.465471
Morimoto Napa: 38.296854, -122.283423
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Ad Hoc
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Ad Hoc, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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Gott's Roadside - Napa
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Gott's Roadside, 1st Street, Napa, CA, United States
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Gott's Roadside - St. Helena
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Gott's Roadside, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Morimoto Napa
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Morimoto Napa, Main Street, Napa, CA, United States

 

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An Italian Castle in Napa Valley

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Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Before visiting Castello di Amorosa if you’d told me there was a castle in California I assumed you meant Hearst Castle in San Simeon. If you insisted there was a castle in Calistoga, built in the Italian tradition, I’d have called you crazy. My guess is that the man behind Castello di Amorosa, Dario Sattui, received his fair share of skepticism as well when he told them his plans. That dream of Dario’s, to build an authentic Tuscan castle in the middle of Napa Valley, has come true in a most amazing way.

In Napa Valley if one brings up the Sattui name most people will think of the winery, V. Sattui. Its large tasting room offers a variety of approachable wines, for the novice and expert tasters. V. Sattui’s market has foods to buy ranging from meats, breads, cheeses, and salads. The grounds offer benches or lawns perfect for picnicking. This leads to V. Sattui being a great stop when in Napa Valley.

Goats in front of Castello di Amorosa

Goats in front of Castello di Amorosa

Similar to V. Sattui Winery, Castello di Amorosa is a fantastic outing. In fact, it’s worth visiting the region just to see the castle. Where else besides Italy can you see an Italian castle? The moment you drive up to the parking lot for Castello di Amorosa you are mesmerized by the castle. Your mind rejects the possibility that someone took it upon himself to have a castle built in Napa Valley. Yet as you get out of your car you’re faced with the stark fact, Castello di Amorosa is real.

As you approach the castle by foot a welcoming committee of farm animals greets you. Dario Sattui didn’t stop at authenticity with the walls of the castle. This is a functioning castle so livestock is prudent. A flock of geese use the shade of trees to block out the sun. Sheep wander through vineyards and goats meander past the castle walls. Seeing the animals gives weight to the fact that every detail of this castle if genuine.

Pricing for tastings or tours at Castello di Amorosa

Pricing for tastings or tours at Castello di Amorosa

You will enter the castle itself through the main gate. To move further into the castle you will need to pay for either general admission or a guided tour. The photo to the right showcases the pricing in late 2014. Each entry fee includes a visit to the tasting room. Children may visit the castle and their entrance includes a tasting of grape juice. On our visit we opted for “General Admission with Premium Wine Tasting”, a cost of $20 a person. With general admission you may go ahead to the top of the tower, visit the great hall, see the courtyard, or descend to the tasting room.

We’d arrived in the morning and went to the tasting room first, in case it got crowded later. The number of people in the tasting room was minimal, which lent to a relaxed tasting session. There was no bumping of elbows or feeling rushed by others looking to snag your spot at the wine bar. Once in the tasting room it was easy to imagine that you were in Italy. There are no windows, which gives the tasting room a medieval, and romantic, vibe. The brick walls are soothing and lined with bottles of wine. The attendant serving us was an Italian gentleman, and that added to the entire experience. Were we in California or Italy? It didn’t matter as we drank the wines and soaked in the atmosphere.

Tasting Room in Castello di Amorosa

Tasting Room in Castello di Amorosa

After tasting the wines we made our way back to the courtyard.   There are tables and chairs in the courtyard that allow you to sit and take in this amazing structure. Next to the courtyard is the great hall that may be used for special events. The walls are painted with images of medieval times. There are portraits of jesters, knights, and royals, along with scenes of daily life. After you’ve had your fill of paintings its time to ascend the stairs to the castle walls and tower.

As you make your way up the stairs a sign reminds you of the hard work it took constructing Castello di Amorosa. The sign reads “our paths and stairways have all been constructed using hand-carved stone, hand-hewn wood, and centuries-old European bricks, to stay true to the building techniques used in the Middle Ages”. You can’t help being in awe as you look at the ground, the walls, the tower and even the rooftops. When you reach the top of the stairs you are rewarded with views of the surrounding hills and vineyards. Admire the scenery or pretend the castle in under siege and you the loan archer left to protect the stronghold.

Rooftop of Castello di Amorosa

Rooftop of Castello di Amorosa

As you make your way back to your vehicle it is hard not to be impressed by this castle. The attention to detail Dario Sattui put into having this castle built is evident throughout, from the moment you step onto the castle grounds until you leave. He is to be commended for making his dream a reality. We are lucky that he made Castello di Amorosa open to the public so we too may experience it.

For more information about Castello di Amorosa, including the history of the castle, visiting hours, and current pricing, please visit their website: http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/

 

 

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Castello di Amorosa

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Castello di Amorosa 38.558418, -122.542602 An Italian Castle in Napa Valley

 

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Oxbow Public Market

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First Impressions of Oxbow Public Market

Counter at Fatted Calf

Counter at Fatted Calf

I was immediately interested when plans to build the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, CA first appeared in the news. I’d read that the same architects behind the Ferry Building in San Francisco had helped create Oxbow. The Ferry Building is one of my favorite places to go to in San Francisco. The architecture of the Ferry Building is beautiful. Renovations the architects made to the inside of the building to allow for merchants worked in capturing the essence of the building. There is an easy flow moving between merchants situated inside to those situated outside the building. The plethora of food options combines well with opportunities to view the bay and people watch. The Ferry Building is a great place to spend your time eating or buying groceries.

So when the Oxbow Public Market opened in 2008 I was very excited. I visited Oxbow after its doors opened to the public but I found my visit disappointing. In hoping for a recreation of the Ferry Building I’d set up Oxbow to fail. The building itself was great but there just wasn’t the same energy I’d found at the Ferry Building. There weren’t very many tourists or locals roaming the market. A handful of merchants had set up shop. It felt more like a small town’s barn flea market than the upscale food mecca I’d conjured in my head. It was not measuring up to the promises made in the articles I’d read touting the Oxbow Public Market. I left thinking I wouldn’t waste my time ever returning.

Let’s Try That Again

Pour over coffee being made at Ritual Coffee Roasters

Pour over coffee being made at Ritual Coffee Roasters

Six years later, 2014, I was in Napa and gave Oxbow one more chance. During those six years I’d been back to Napa a handful of times. I visited the surrounding downtown area and each year that area kept improving. New restaurants were always opening, more shopping was available, and the riverfront generated foot traffic. Oxbow Public Market is close to this area, and I thought it might be worth seeing if it also had gotten better through the years.

Going back to Oxbow Public Market wound up being a fantastic decision. Today’s Oxbow is everything I’d hoped it would be. The building itself, both inside and out, has kept up its appearance, and it looks wonderful. It exudes somewhat of a Pacific Northwest market vibe, something that wouldn’t seem out of place in either Portland or Seattle. The building itself didn’t surprise me but what I didn’t expect to find was how many more merchants now occupied both the inside space plus the adjoining property. There is so much more to experience. The Oxbow Public Market now has a liveliness that makes you want to visit, shop, and hang out.

Highlights of Oxbow Public Market

As of 2015 Oxbow Public Market has 24 merchants. You can buy all of your grocery needs, from vegetables to olive oil to chocolates. At the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant you can pick from a wide variety of cheeses. Or you can dine at a few of the various restaurants offered, such as Hog Island Oyster Bar or Kitchen Door. The talented baristas at Ritual Coffee Roasters will fulfill your caffeine needs by making you a great cup of coffee.

There are so many options available inside Oxbow Public Market but two standout merchants in an adjacent property to the main building. Model Bakery serves artisan breads and pastries. Their English Muffins alone are worth the trip. The English Muffins are soft and fluffy in the inside, with the outside lightly crispy. You can order a half-dozen of these delicacies to go. The English Muffins are ideal for breakfast at home, with either jams or cheeses. You can even order breakfast sandwiches made with the same English Muffins. Next door to Model Bakery you will find the Fatted Calf. At the Fatted Calf you can fulfill all your meat desires. The Fatted Calf is a charcuterie and butcher shop. It offers high quality meats ranging from sausages to pates. If you are unsure which of the many succulent meats to buy you may ask the employees for a recommendation.

My suggestion is to head to Oxbow Public Market in the morning when it first opens. You can buy a baguette from Model Bakery, salami from The Fatted Calf, and manchego from the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. You are now set for a wine country picnic later that same afternoon.

Oxbow Public Market Information:

Located at: 610 & 644 First Street, Napa, California 94559

For information about the merchants at Oxbow Public Market plus days and hours of operation visit: http://oxbowpublicmarket.com/

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Oxbow Public Market

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Oxbow Public Market 38.301679, -122.281623 Oxbow Public Market

 

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A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three

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Parts one and two of “A Day in Napa Valley” covered how to spend your morning and lunchtime while you traverse Highway 29 in Napa Valley’s wine country region. You’ve had breakfast, you’ve gone to wineries, eaten lunch, and been a tourist. It’s now time to complete your day in Napa Valley by visiting two more wineries.

Afternoon

Stop #6 – Charles Krug

After your lunch break you’ll continue your wine education by visiting the first winery in Napa Valley, Charles Krug Winery. Even though it’s the first winery in Napa Valley it never gets too crowded. The winery has an intimate tasting center hosted by a knowledgeable staff. You can expect great service while drinking fantastic red wines. As you sip away remember that you are drinking wine with its roots from the first winery in Napa Valley. This is where it all started.

Stop #7 – Sterling Vineyards

As your day exploring wine country comes to end why not finish as you started, soaking in the scenery. Enter Sterling Vineyards by heading along a driveway lined on both sides by vines and trees. After parking you’ll need to take Sterling’s aerial tramcars to access their tasting center. The tram offers views of Sterling’s grounds, including the vineyard and a pond. Sterling’s tasting center offers an outdoor terrace where you’ll be able to sit outside while tasting and enjoy views of Napa Valley. Use Sterling’s serene location to wrap up your day of wine tasting. Relax and take the time to absorb what you’ve experienced today.

 

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve never traveled to Napa Valley before then visiting the wineries listed in this three-part series gives you the chance at a unique opportunity. You’ll experience history and education as well as taste a variety of wines offered from the valley. Keep in mind though that the best part of Napa Valley is the sheer number of wineries in one location. This itinerary is in no way exhaustive of the opportunities available in Napa Valley. This itinerary allows you to have a guide for your first visit to Napa Valley.

After you are no longer a wine tasting rookie which winery to go to may still appear daunting but it’s part of the fun. If you drive by a winery that looks interesting to you just pull over for a visit. You’ll never go wrong because each visit to a winery is a chance for you to figure out what types of wines you enjoy and which you don’t.  Everyone’s tastes differ so to find out which wines you enjoy you just have to keep trying different wines. Remember to keep a list of the wines you do enjoy. Having a list allows you to notice trends in your wine preference as well as help you order wines at restaurants. Plus, you never know, you may find your favorite bottle of wine at a local supermarket back home.

Earlier Stops

Your day in Napa Valley is now complete. Read our related articles for more information on what else to do in Napa Valley. Click below to access the other articles in this series.

A Day in Napa Valley, Part One

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two

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Napa Valley

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Bouchon Bakery: 38.402422, -122.361802
PlumpJack Winery: 38.455471, -122.374091
St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery: 38.455262, -122.414318
V. Sattui Winery: 38.488610, -122.448717
Napa Valley Sign: 38.427534, -122.394365
Charles Krug Winery : 38.518744, -122.480955
Sterling Vineyards: 38.569816, -122.545443
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Bouchon Bakery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
Bouchon Bakery, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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PlumpJack Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
PlumpJack Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Napa, CA, United States
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St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA, United States
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V. Sattui Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Napa Valley Sign
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
7610 St Helena Hwy, Napa, California, United States
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Charles Krug Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Charles Krug Winery, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Sterling Vineyards
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Sterling Winery, Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States

 

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A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two

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In part one of “A Day in Napa Valley” you started your journey through wine country. Your first stop was to have a breakfast of delicacies at Bouchon Bakery. After breakfast you eased into wine country living at PlumpJack Winery. Next you enhanced your wine education at St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery. Now that you’ve had a chance to visit a couple of wineries you’ll need to start pacing yourself on the amount of wine you’re consuming. That means it’s time for lunch.

Lunchtime

The biggest mistake one can make wine tasting is going from winery to winery without any breaks. Drinking a lot of wines in a row doesn’t allow you the chance to cleanse your palate. Soon the wines will just start tasting the same. Your tongue won’t know the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Riesling. You might fall victim to buying a bottle of wine you thought you enjoyed only to dislike it weeks later at home. To make sure this doesn’t happen you’ll want to refresh your palate with a nice hearty meal.

Stop #4 – V. Sattui Winery

 

V. Sattui Winery sign and picnic area

V. Sattui Winery sign

It’s time for lunch and as your afternoon will continue on Highway 29 it’s best to stick to that road for dining options. A good place to fill up your stomach is V. Sattui Winery. This spot is ideal for couples, families, and groups as V. Sattui has a variety of food items available. Next to their tasting center and wine shop is an expansive deli filled with fresh cheeses, deli meats, breads, pastas, salads, and more.   There’s something for every appetite. Another feature that makes V. Sattui a great stop is that the property has a large picnic area with tons of benches and large trees providing plenty of shade. Take your food purchases outside and savor the outdoors while you take a well-deserved wine country break.

V. Sattui Winery picnic area

V. Sattui Winery picnic area

Stop #5 – Napa Valley Welcome Sign

 

Napa Valley Welcome Sign

Napa Valley Welcome Sign

After lunch you’ll have one more stop before going to your next winery. Beyond the wineries Napa Valley doesn’t have very many traditional tourist sites as you might find in other locations. The wineries really are the sites but there is one stop that makes for a postcard photograph. The Napa Valley Sign welcomes visitors to the beautiful region with a picturesque background of hills and vines. There isn’t a parking lot near the sign. A dirt path runs in front of the sign that allows multiple cars to park next to the sign. The easiest way to find the location is by entering in the longitude-latitude coordinates (38°25’38″N 122°23’41″W) into your map search engine. Or you can use the following address: 7610 St Helena Highway, Napa, California.

Next Stop – More wine

After lunch and a tourist stop, you’re off to two more wineries. Check out part three of “A Day in Napa Valley” for where your will end your day.

A Day in Napa Valley, Part One

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three

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Napa Valley

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Bouchon Bakery: 38.402422, -122.361802
PlumpJack Winery: 38.455471, -122.374091
St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery: 38.455262, -122.414318
V. Sattui Winery: 38.488610, -122.448717
Napa Valley Sign: 38.427534, -122.394365
Charles Krug Winery : 38.518744, -122.480955
Sterling Vineyards: 38.569816, -122.545443
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Bouchon Bakery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
Bouchon Bakery, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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PlumpJack Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
PlumpJack Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Napa, CA, United States
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St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA, United States
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V. Sattui Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Napa Valley Sign
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
7610 St Helena Hwy, Napa, California, United States
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Charles Krug Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Charles Krug Winery, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Sterling Vineyards
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Sterling Winery, Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States

 

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A Day in Napa Valley, Part One

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Trying to plan a day in Napa Valley’s wine country can be tricky. There are many wineries in the region and it is impossible to visit all of them in one day. Not to mention disastrous for your liver. Your aim in visiting wineries shouldn’t be to overly imbibe. The goal is to understand the flavors and different varieties of wines available. To prevent palate overload visit three or four wineries in one day. A perfect day in wine country mixes relaxation, scenery, eating, and wine tasting. “A Day in Napa Valley” is a three-part series that will give you a complete itinerary for a day in Napa.

Morning

To reach Napa Valley, you will find yourself on Highway 29, the main artery running through the region. You can use Highway 29 to reach the various locations listed in this guide. Or if you prefer you can use back roads, which offer closer views of the picturesque hills and vineyards.

Stop #1 – Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery Macaroons

Macaroons from Bouchon Bakery

Before your first sip of wine you will stop off at Bouchon Bakery for breakfast. The bakery is run by Chef Thomas Keller and is in Yountville. Bouchon Bakery is popular so if you are line averse be sure to arrive when the bakery opens its doors. If upon arriving there is a line do not let that deter you. The good folks working at the counter move quickly and efficiently. Plus the wait in line just allows you more time to decide which pastries to buy. If you are having trouble deciding, the macaroons are delicious. The macaroons come in multiple flavors so don’t be shy and buy a couple variations to try.

Stop #2 – PlumpJack Winery

With your belly content off of Bouchon’s delicacies you are set to begin your day of wine tasting. Your first winery to visit will be PlumpJack Winery. The winery isn’t located directly on Highway 29 but tucked away on Oakville Cross Road. Set off from what can be a busy highway makes PlumpJack Winery a great place to settle into the flow of wine country living. The grounds are quiet and the tasting room is quaint and homey. At first glance PlumpJack might appear to be a small time winery but it packs big time wines. Be sure to sample their Chardonnay, a bold buttery wine that will leave you wanting more.

Stop #3 – St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

Grapevine tasting

Grapevine tasting at St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

Your next stop is St.Supéry Vineyards & Winery. St.Supéry offers a variety of clean crisp wines. Their moscato in particular is a light fruity dessert wine that is so popular it has its own wine club. The St.Supéry tasting center is modern and airy with comfy couches just begging to be sat on while wine tasting. What sets St.Supéry apart is that it offers the opportunity for you to expand on your wine education. When grapes are in season St.Supéry has a section of vines next to the tasting center that the public may pick grapes off of and taste. The vines are labeled so you will know which grapes are used to make particular wines. Grab a red grape from a vine labeled Cabernet. Gently bite into the grape and while tasting the juices of the grape imagine just how this little grape would have transformed into a red wine. This is a great way to experience the wine making process from where it initially begins.

Grapes on Vine

Grapes on vine at St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

Next Stop – Lunch, wine, and more

After visits to two wineries it’s time for lunch. Be sure to read part two of “A Day in Napa Valley” for how your day will continue!

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three

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Napa Valley

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Bouchon Bakery: 38.402422, -122.361802
PlumpJack Winery: 38.455471, -122.374091
St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery: 38.455262, -122.414318
V. Sattui Winery: 38.488610, -122.448717
Napa Valley Sign: 38.427534, -122.394365
Charles Krug Winery : 38.518744, -122.480955
Sterling Vineyards: 38.569816, -122.545443
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Bouchon Bakery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
Bouchon Bakery, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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PlumpJack Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
PlumpJack Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Napa, CA, United States
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St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA, United States
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V. Sattui Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Napa Valley Sign
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
7610 St Helena Hwy, Napa, California, United States
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Charles Krug Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Charles Krug Winery, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Sterling Vineyards
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Sterling Winery, Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States

 

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